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Open Circle Social Action

Join together with your peers to learn about the importance of the practice of tikkun olam (repair the world), tzedek (justice), and tzedakah (charity) in Jewish tradition; work with community organizers in local advocacy organizations; and make a difference through a meaningful social action activity on a specific theme. Classes start in May 2019. 

  • time 20s and 30s
  • location Community spaces and living rooms
  • duration Six Sessions
Register for Spring 2019 Classes

Spring 2019 Open Circle Social Action Classes

This course will engage with the current case for reparations in America, and delve into texts and traditions to better understand what Judaism says about our duty to intervene in cases of theft and wealth hoarding, and how we can repair our world. Analyzing passages from Talmud, we will bring its ideas about retribution and reparations to the contemporary moment. Partnering with Kavod and Ujima, we will learn about current efforts to redistribute wealth and move towards organizing a community-constructed action project which implements the outcomes of our learning in our local communities. Regardless of your previous familiarity with Jewish texts or organizing, enjoy meaningful discussion and dive into action!

  • When: Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m., May 7 – June 18
  • Where: Private Residence in Porter Square
  • Instructor: Alona Weimer

Alona Weimer is currently a JOIN for Justice Fellow organizing Boston-area Jews around Racial Justice. A graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in African & African American Studies and Legal Studies, Alona loves linking her love for Torah & Jewish people with her commitment to intervening in systemic oppression.


We will examine the social construction of race — and the consequences of this social construction – throughout history and into the present. We will identify the varied, interlocking ways in which white supremacy operates ideologically, institutionally, internally, and interpersonally in the United States. And we will evaluate our own personal racial identities and our family histories to identify whether and how we have benefited from or been harmed by racism and antisemitism.

Then we will move to action, studying historical examples of Jewish involvement in racial justice work and applying lessons learned to the contemporary needs of the racial justice movement. You will leave with a commitment to concrete action to expand our community’s racial justice work.

  • When: Sundays, 1-6 p.m., May 12 and May 19
  • Where: Temple Beth Zion, 1566 Beacon St, Brookline
  • This course is free

FACILITATED BY KAVOD’S ANTI-RACISM CURRICULUM TEAM: Kavod is a vibrant lay-led Jewish community in Boston for people in their 20s and 30s committed to transformative local organizing and meaningful Jewish ritual. Kavod’s Anti-Racism Curriculum Team explores the Jewish obligation to create a more just world. We imagine a world in which Jews of all racial and ethnic backgrounds build authentic, sustained solidarity with one another and in deep relationship with other communities targeted by white supremacy.

The question of how we can stay resilient and committed to teaching in the midst of a challenging, at times demoralizing, world is one that deeply preoccupied the ancient rabbis.  It is a question that continues to concern those of us invested in education and justice work today.

This six-session course, open to educators of all backgrounds, will explore how the rabbis navigated, renegotiated and reinvigorated their identities as teachers and activists.  In addition to applying rabbinic frameworks to reflect on our own contemporary realities as public educators in Boston and Cambridge, this class will help us to think and strategize about how to organize our colleagues more effectively in an effort to bring about meaningful institutional and structural change.

  • When: Saturdays, 7:00-8:30 p.m., May 11, May 18, May 25, June 1, June 8, and June 15
  • Location: Private Residence in Jamaica Plain
  • Fee: $80. Financial assistance available upon request
  • Instructors: Rabbis Leora AbelsonShahar ColtLaura Bellows, and Daniel Schaefer

How could Shabbat, Shmitah (sabbatical), and agricultural cycles disrupt our assumptions about what it means to own, rest, and relate to the earth and each other? We will delve into rabbinic and biblical agricultural wisdom to inform our contemporary understandings and practice.

  • When: Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m., May 21, May 28, June 4, June 11, June 18, June 25.
  • Where: Hebrew College, Room 104
  • Fee: $80. Financial assistance available upon request
  • Instructors: Rabbi Getzel Davis & Leora Mallach

We often hear about immigrants’ rights, gun violence prevention, gender rights, and housing on the national level. But what about the local level? What Massachusetts laws address these issues? Join JALSA (the Jewish Alliance for Legal and Social Action) for an Open Circle Social Action Class in which we’ll look at local Massachusetts legislation through a Jewish lens. Led by JALSA’s Director of Communications Rachael Dubinsky and Program & Outreach Coordinator David Albright, this class will  help us to see what Jewish tradition offers in understanding local legislation and inspire us to take Jewishly-inspired action to make our voices heard in the legislative process.

  • When: Thursdays, 7-9 p.m., May 30-June 27, as well as Friday, June 28 for a Shabbat experience
  • Where: Private Residence in Cambridge
  • Fee: $80. Financial assistance available upon request
  • Instructors: Rachael Dubinsky and David Albright

Join us in reading texts from the Talmud to Allen Ginsberg to Judith Butler and find lessons in queer survival, gender expression, Jewish sex, and gay liberation. We welcome queer community members and allies in the pursuit of Jewish wisdom to journey with us in making sense of where we belong in the Jewish tradition. The course will include information about local Jewish queer activism from Keshet and Eshel.

A non-binary community organizer, Elie will be pulling texts from social struggles, traditional Jewish writing, and modern social theory to explore and strengthen our understandings of Jewish queer survival. An alum of the Join for Justice Fellowship, they have been organizing and facilitating in the Jewish community for 6 years. Elie’s partner Emily Rogal, a second-year graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, will join in facilitation.

  • When: Tuesdays, 7:30-9 p.m., April 30 – June 18
  • Where: Private Residence in Cambridge
  • Co-Facilitators: Elie Leaderman-Bray and Emily Rogal

Tuition assistance is available — don’t let cost be a barrier! Please contact Bernice Lerner, Dean of Adult Learning, at 617-559-8709 or blerner@hebrewcollege.edu. All classes are subsidized by CJP.

The Mishna in Avot says, ‘Turn it over and turn it over, because everything is in it.’ Even when we think we’re having a totally new conversation, if we scratch the surface of our tradition we can almost always discover that our ancestors had a conversation that touched on some of the same values and questions. They don’t always land where we might, but studying their conversations can illuminate ours in powerful ways.

– Shani Rosenbaum, Open Circle Social Action instructor.

Ready to Register for Open Circle Social Action?

If you need additional information or have questions about registration, please contact Bernice Lerner, Dean of Adult Learning, at 617-559-8709 or blerner@hebrewcollege.edu.